Sometime last week within the premises of the University of Lagos, some final year students that majored in Communications/Advertising were packed together by some external facilitators; mission was to discuss the topic: “Unlocking your Creativity.”
The lead speaker spoke for almost three hours. Everything she said can be aptly summed up thus: “If you want to successfully unlock your creativity and become good at creating ideas, simply get on your kneels, close your eyes, and pray to God, for He is the giver of creative ideas.”
To religious narcissists, the above is like music to the ear. To creative realists, the lead speaker’s submission is nothing but a bitter pill in the mouth.
Truth be told, closed mindsets such as that of the lead speaker not only explain why we are the way we are as a nation, it equally explain why profound creativity is so fleeting these days just like it was during the Dark Ages of the Ancient Greeks.
According to the globally renowned book, “The Myths of Creativity,” authored by David Burkus, “When people can’t use existing knowledge to explain the world around them, they either develop myths or use religion as an easy way out.”
The Ancient Greeks were so overwhelmed by the concept of creativity that their parochial intelligence couldn’t contain it. So they created the muses. The muses were the gods that received and answered the prayers of ancient writers, painters, musicians, etc. They (muses) were the bearers of creativity’s divine spark. Offend them, and you’re left barren with no creative ideas to work with. So out of reverence, the Greeks built temples called “Museum,” meaning “cult place of the muses, where the muses are worshipped.” Many years down the line, “Museum” now means any place where public knowledge or creative works are displayed.
Thankfully, the myopic era of the Ancient Greeks got broken when the whirlwind of Renaissance swept through between the 14th and 17th centuries, liberating creative thinkers from the “bondage” of the muses.
The great pre-Socratic Greek philosopher called Protagoras had said: “Man is the measure of all things.” This profound thinking became the soul of the Renaissance era, which not only snowballed into the concept of Humanism, but also immensely and eternally shaped the practices of art, architecture, politics, science and literature. Artists found freedom; then experimented and invented timeless techniques to creative paintings. Little wonder the Renaissance era is still adjudged the most creative era in human existence. The era equally reformed the sciences, politics and educational sectors. Also, it was during the era that polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare etc., reigned supreme with robust body of creative works that profoundly shaped today’s modernity.
So, we the so-called modern men, where are we today?
Like dogs, we’ve gone back to lapping up the muses’ vomits.
Some myopic entities still believe that to unlock creativity, go pious; go on your kneels and then pray to a muse! How ridiculous.
In addition, we the so-called modern men even basked in the illusion that weed or drugs induce creativity. According to David Burkus, “if drugs or alcohol impede you from being at your best driving a car, why think you can be at your best driving creativity when you’re stoned like hell?”
Weed and drugs simply disconnect you from your realties and then from the environment, when in fact, to be truly creative, you need to stay connected to your realities and the environment.
Social environment is an integral part of creativity. We all exist inside a larger environment, and the environment influences us more than we’re probably aware. Research shows that the environment an individual operates in can either positively or negatively affect creative expressions.
And it is from your social environment that you’ll get both the human and cultural truths.
Armed with the human and cultural truths, you get the insight that addresses a given creative task; hence it sparks the creative mind. Technically, this is how creativity gets unlocked.
Being religious is not bad. However, religion is like salt, sprinkle a bit into your system and its all sweet. Pour in more than enough, the opposite of sweet sets in.
… I’m Just Saying.